Cosmic Castaways

Students will understand the structure of galaxies and the nature of galaxy collisions by watching a planetarium show, building their own galaxy, and engaging with an interactive simulation of how galaxies collide and merge gravitationally. ages 14+

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 3.52.21 PMSummary: This activity is designed to allow students to understand the structure of galaxies and nature of galaxy collisions. They will: watch a planetarium show, build their own galaxy, and engage with an interactive simulation illustrating how galaxies collide and merge gravitationally.

Downloads (Updated 7 April 2014): [Word 21 MB], [PDF 21.4 MB]

Grade Level: appropriate for HS and Astro 101 audiences

Next Generation Science Standards:

  • DCI: ESS1.A: The Universe & Its Stars: Patterns of the motion of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, and predicted.
  • SEP 2: Developing & Using Models: Develop and/or use a model to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.
  • CCC 2: Cause & Effect: Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted.  Deciphering causal relationships, and the mechanisms by which they are mediated, is a major activity of science and engineering.
  • CCC 7: Stability & Change: For both designed and natural systems, conditions that affect stability and factors that control rates of change are critical elements to consider and understand.

Common Core Standards:

  • ELA/Literacy WHST.6-8.1: Write arguments focused on discipline content.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Recommended Sequence of Activities (requires 3 class blocks of ~50min):

Hour 1:

  • Engage: Discuss what students already know about galaxies (15 min)
  • Explore: Construct a galaxy (20 min)
  • Explain: How do their Galaxies compare to real galaxies (10 min)
  • Explain: List Vocabulary & Concepts (5 min)

Homework:

  • Elaborate: Worksheets; write definitions for Vocabulary and Concepts

Hour 2:

  • Elaborate: Watch the Cosmic Castaways show (25 min)
  • Elaborate: Review Vocabulary & Concepts (20 min)

Hour 3:

  • Explore: Use the Galaxy Crash merger simulator OR Collision Sequence (35 min)
  • Evaluate: Discuss findings from collisions (15 min)

Alternative Sequence A: Shortened Sequence of activities (2 class periods)

Hour 1:

  • Engage: Discuss what students already know about galaxies (15 min)
  • Explore: Construct a galaxy (20 min)
  • Explain: How do their Galaxies compare to real galaxies (10 min)
  • Explain: List Vocabulary & Concepts (5 min)

Homework:

  • Elaborate: Worksheets; write definitions for Vocabulary and Concepts

Hour 2:

  • Elaborate: Watch the Cosmic Castaways show (25 min)
  • Elaborate: Review Vocabulary & Concepts (20 min)

Alternative Sequence B: Shortened Sequence of activities (2 class periods)

Hour 1:

  • Engage: Discuss what students already know about galaxies (15 min)
  • Explore: Construct a galaxy (20 min)
  • Explain: How do their Galaxies compare to real galaxies (10 min)
  • Explain: List Vocabulary & Concepts (5 min)

Homework:

  • Elaborate: Worksheets; write definitions for Vocabulary and Concepts

Hour 2:

  • Explore: Use the Galaxy Crash merger simulator OR Collision Sequence (35 min)
  • Evaluate: Discuss findings from collisions (15 min)

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